The Ninny State
In the 1940s and ’50s, kids fell in love with a new technology, and adults
freaked out. A psychiatric researcher warned that this latest pastime was “a
distinct influencing factor in the case of every single delinquent or disturbed
child” he had studied. In 1948, Time magazine said that it would “not only
inspire evil but suggest a form for the evil to take.” As David Hajdu relates in
his insightful history of the era, “The Ten-Cent Plague,” states and cities
introduced more than a hundred laws to ban or limit its sale. Congress held
televised hearings to denounce it.
Which is all to say, the country panicked — because of the comic book.
Sixty-odd years on, of course, this seems hysterical. And yet substitute
“Internet,” “video game” or “texting,” and the sky seems to be falling again.